Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I heard voices in my head last. They kept me awake.

It pissed me off, because I was exausted after getting very little sleep on both Saturday and Sunday night (which, I confess, were for somewhat self-inflicted reasons) I was really, really looking forward to having a good night's sleep.

It was weird, because it wasn't like a dream. It was nothing that I was participating in. I was more of an observer. And in some ways, it was as if I was an accidental eavesdropper, as the events just sort of played out inside my skull.

There was a murder investigation. A husband, dead. Someone was trying to pin it on his wife, who was pregnant and hormonal had psychic power and in a burst of careless anger, fried her husband's brain as efficiently as if she'd dropped it into a microwave.

Unsurprisngly, there was a lot of discussion going on, about the murder particularly, but about human rights issues as well. Certain groups were wondering why they didn't as a general rule, lock up psychics behind shielded walls when the became pregnant, to prevent them from lashing out at their husbands.

Of course, others argued that you couldn't lock someone up like that -- particularly a pregnant woman -- even if you were doing it to help prevent someone's death.

I just shouted at them all to shut up, but I don't think they heard me. I suspect that means that they don't exist, which I think is a good thing, because it means I don't have a bunch of little tiny people living inside of my brain.

On the downside, it might mean that I'm insane.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Happy DOOM Day

As much as I feel like I've overdone the blog posting today, I just can't let this slip by without a mention.

Today is the 11th birthday of the release of the Shareware version of DOOM.

I can not let this slip by because DOOM -- and particularly the shareware release -- is the game that turned me into a PC gamer and, in doing so, changed the course of my life forever.

Before DOOM - couldn't imagine playing computer games. After DOOM - couldn't imagine not playing video games.

I actually downloaded the DOOM shareware to show off my superior computer knowledge to a friend of mine. He'd just bought a copy of Wolfenstein 3D for his brother for Christmas and, while I'd never so much as touched Doom, I did know that it was developed by the same people who made Wolfenstein, and was supposed to be leaps and bounds more impressive.

So I downloaded the game, just to show him what a *real* computer game looked like.

And then I started playing it.

And in twenty seconds I was hooked, life changed forever.

Stupid Doom.

Thank you to everyone at id Software, past and present, who have brought titles like Doom, Doom2, Quake, Quake2, Quake3, and, of course, Doom3 into our lives. We're probably not a whole lot better for it, but I know we're a whole lot happier.

Year of the Stick

I'm currently working on a collection of Stick Figure Drama that will run from strip #1 to strip #28. These are being designed and printed so that I have something untraditional to hand out to friends and family members for Christmas.

However, I'm planning to overprint by a few copies that I'll use to test the market for selling a collection of this type.

So here's the deal. "Year of the Stick" will run somewhere between 64 and 72 pages (I don't have exact numbers right now, as it's still being designed) and covers the strips mentioned above -- #1 to #28; "Sometimes Love Dies" to "Sometimes Love Dies: Redux" (which hasn't been posted here yet). Plus, each strip will have an accompany commentary, including descriptions of that week's inspriation, trivia about the strip, or just drunk ramblings from yours truly.

I'm printing 50 copies, and as of this writing I'm not sure how many will be for sale -- probably between 10 and 15, which will make this a very, very, very limited edition. Price is only $9.99 -- not bad for a 60-ish-page limited edition comic strip collection. Y'all try to go buy a Far Side book for that much...

If you want to buy one, it's currently on a first-come, first-serve basis. Drop me an email at todd@caughtinthenet.org if you're interested. Heck, I'm feeling generous -- if you buy one of these intial copies, I'll even sign the thing for ya.

And if you miss out, don't panic. As I said, this is a market test, and if there seems to be enough interest, I'll go back for a second printing. Maybe a third and fourth as well, but something tells me it isn't quite going to come to that.


I just finished today's post-NaNo work on my still unfinished novel. And what I want to know is this: Why doesn't the MS Word dictionary recognize the word "cunt"?

Ugly word? Sure. Nasty word? No doubt about it.

But it's a word. Like it or not.

Stupid Microsoft...


Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

Ah...yeah. Thanks so much for the email, neateye. Whoever you are.

Monday, December 06, 2004

KING COVERS: Roadwork (1981)

It took me years before I finally read Roadwork. It's a shame, because it's a hell of a good book.

I think most of the reason it took so long is that when I first started reading King, it was because wrote horror, and horror was about monsters and vampires and things that go bump in the night, and those things were cool, because if you liked those things you seemed dark and edgy, and that was also cool.

Roadwork was about a guy going through a bit of a midlife crisis while the city tries to tear down his house. Which wasn't very dark and edgy and was, in fact, kind of boring and middle-aged.

I finally read it a couple years ago when going through the Bachman Books again (mostly as an excuse to reread Rage, which remains one of my all time favourite King novels) and I was incredibly affected by the story of Roadwork. As the story of a man who is desperate to hang on to the things he cares most about, and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that, there's something for all of us to relate to, even as we watch him drive headlong to a conclusion that we know will not be a good one.

The original US release -- a paperback, as 4 out of 5 of the Bachman Books were -- has a preety standard, "No name author on the shelf of an airport bookstore" kind of look to it. Guy with gun in the background, house in foreground, impression of standoff given by the imagery. Does its job well enough, but nothing that screams brilliance.

The later US release went for a slightly more understated look, with a creepy, deathly road sign -- an effective image. It loses something for me, though, by attempting to be *too* creepy with all that green fog kinda stuff. Green fog isn't creepy. It's lame.

These covers, both from Sweden, were where I suspect the notion for the creepy, deathly road sign were stolen from. And, in my opinion, this is where they're far more effective. Simple, very eye-catching with the roadsign yellow against the stark black. I pick the version on the left as the top Roadwork cover design -- it edges out the other design from Sweden by having a better font choice.

This UK design borrows mildly from the initial Signet layout -- guy with gun, signs of a showdown, etc. The guy looks like he's wearing a trenchcoat though, which makes the character seem a bit too private dectective like for my tastes.

I only wish I could see a larger version of this cover from Japan, as it's doing something very, very right. The basic design -- with the photo, at the top, taking up only about a third of the whole cover, then just blackness below it, is a definite winner. Unfortunately, I can't quite make out what's going on in the photo. It looks, to my eye, like a road construction crew which, while appropriate, doesn't quite cut it. Which is unfortunate because once again, the Japanese designers have shown a very, very good eye.

And so we go from good to bad, with this cover from Spain, which is apparently about a guy who wants to guard his favourite strip of highway from...something. And is he wearing a California Highway Patrol uniform in that picture? Spain followed this cover up with...

...this one, which appears to imply that the fellow in the California Highway Patrol outfit is now road pizza. It's a better cover than the last one, certainly, but still missing something.

And now we go from bad to worse. I don't even know what to say about this cover from Belgium. Is that a...zombie?

I just...ah, I can't take anymore. Let's get this over with.

On the left we have a cover from Bulgaria which, near as I can tell, has nothing to do with the novel in question and appears to have had its design inspired by the cover of The Stand. On the right a cover from Italy which prompts me to simply say: "Just because it has the word ROAD in the title does not mean you have to show cars on the cover."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I've got to say about that.


I feel simultaneously hungry, yet marked for death.

Second most embarassing moment in the history of Caught in the 'Net

Well, it's probably not, actually, but it's got to be in the top five, easily, and is, at the very least, a really excellent example of stupendously bad timing.

Because who should roll through town on the weekend following my column on Caught in the 'Net's most embarassing moment but the person who had a very integral role in that most embarassing moment -- the wife who I split up with less than a week after writing a Valentine's Day column professing my undying love for her.

She was staying with her parents and I had been invited over to visit, so I decided to pop by, without making any mental connection with the column I had written last week. Until, a little later in the evening, I noticed her pick up and start to flip through a copy of last week's Tribune Weekend. At which point I could only think: Oh...God...

We all had a good laugh, and I even managed to convince her that I wasn't obsessively writing about her every week. Yet, in another strange example of synchronicity, this week's Stick Figure Drama is also about the end of a marriage. Must be something about the holiday season that lifts my spirits and make sme think of happy families. And by "happy" I really mean "tragic and disfunctional".

That particular strip will be up later in the week. For now, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that the side links to Stick Figure Drama cartoons were updated a few nights back, so you can catch up on a little light reading while you wait for the new edition.

Lastly, coming later tonight or, more likely, tomorrow, a new edition of King Covers, featuring a lesser known title with plenty of really, really crappy covers to choose from.